NOTE: This Spoiler was sent in by Jen who says.. "This is one of the most beautiful movies I have ever seen. Chris Columbus was so true to the Broadway version."
The movie opens with the cast standing on a stage in an empty theater singing Seasons of Love. After the song, we hear Marks voice (Anthony Rapp) telling us how he is going to shoot without a script because everything he has done so far has not been good; he is a filmmaker. It is December 24th, 1989, 9 pm, Eastern Standard Time. As the song Rent starts, we see Mark bicycling through the city and many eviction notices posted. He grabs his and rushes upstairs to his loft.
At the loft, Roger (Adam Pascal) is playing guitar as the power blows. Mark enters and shows Roger the eviction notice. They go out on the balcony, and see all the other tenants have the same notice. They all set their eviction notices on fire and throw them down. Benny (Taye Diggs), the landlord, pulls up in his Range Rover and everyone tells him they will not pay rent.
Also during the song, Collins (Jesse L. Martin) calls the boys from outside and tells Mark to throw down the key to their loft. When he catches it, three thugs chase him into an alley and beat him up.
Benny tells Mark and Roger to come down to talk to him. Here, we learn that Marks ex-girlfriend Maureen (Idina Menzel) is staging a protest against Benny, who is opening up a studio called Cyber Arts. Benny tells Mark and Roger they can stay rent-free if they get Maureen to cancel the protest. In Youll See, Benny says they can have space in the studio to produce films and write songs. We also learn that Benny used to live with Mark, Roger, Collins and Maureen. And recently, Maureen dumped Mark for a lawyer named Joanne (Tracie Thoms).
In the alley, Angel (Wilson Jermaine Heredia) is playing drums on the street and hears Collins groaning. He goes to help him. They discover they both have AIDS and Angel tells him about Life Support, which is a support group for people with AIDS.
Back in the loft, Mark goes to find Collins and Roger goes up to the roof to sing One Song Glory. We learn he used to be in a band and he met his ex-girlfriend April while performing. They used smack and April contracted AIDS (presumably, Roger did, too, though we dont for sure find out until later). Also, Rogers life revolves around writing one great song before he dies. As he returns inside, Mimi, an exotic dancer who lives below them, blows out her candle and knocks on his door. They sing Light My Candle and they each flirtatiously blow out the candle to keep relighting it.
The next morning, Mark and Roger are in the loft when Collins finally enters (14 hours after he got the key!) He has brought a ton of food and booze, and Mark and Roger dont understand where he got all the money. Collins has been fired from teaching, but just got a job at NYU, which wouldnt pay enough yet. Collins introduces Angel, who enters in drag. She explains, in Today 4 U how a woman offered to pay her 1,000 dollars to kill a dog that lived next door and was annoying. Mark gets a call from Maureen, who needs technical help for her protest. Mark says hell go and Collins says he is whipped. Collins and Angel head off to Life Support, but Roger stays behind.
At The Space, where Maureens protest will be held, Mark meets Joanne. They sing Tango Maureen in which Mark tells Joanne about how much Maureen used to cheat. Mark gets knocked out when Joanne drops him, and in a fantasy scene, they are tangoing as Maureen tangos with another man and another woman (a metaphor for cheating). Joanne suspects Maureen is cheating on her, too.
Next, we see the Life Support meeting. Besides Collins and Angel, there is Steve, Gordon, Ali, Pam, and Sue. In the middle, Mark awkwardly enters and makes a big commotion. He ends up filming the meeting for a documentary he is making.
Mimi, at the Cat Scratch Club, is doing her exotic dancer business and singing Out Tonight about going out tonight. By the end, she has left the club and has entered Rogers loft. In Another Day Roger pushes her out and says to come back another day. Mimi sings that he has to forget regret or life is [his] to miss and there is no day but today.
Back at Life Support, Steve (Aaron Lohr) starts off Will I? and it is sung as a harmony. By the end, Roger has come to the meeting. After the meeting, Mark, Roger, Collins, and Angel take the subway. Collins sings Santa Fe about opening a restaurant in, surprise, Santa Fe. Mark and Roger head off to help set up for the protest, and Collins and Angel profess their love in Ill Cover You.
Before the protest, Roger apologizes to Mimi and invites her to go with him and his friends to Life Cafe after Maureens show. Maureen rides in on a motorcycle and sings Over the Moon. By the end, she has everyone mooing to show solidarity and the police officers start beating people and a riot ensues.
At Life Cafe, Mark tells Maureen the news bought his footage of the riot. The crew sings La Vie Boheme, which is just basically them having fun. Benny is there and tells them Bohemia is dead. Mark performs a fake funeral, and Maureen moons Benny. Before that, we also learn that Bennys dog died, and we figure out it was the same dog Angel killed. At the end, Rogers beeper goes off and Mimi comments AZT time. Now, they each realize they both have AIDS. Roger pulls Mimi outside, and they sing I Should Tell You. Roger only pushed Mimi away before because of his AIDS. But they both have it, so now they can be together. They go back inside, and everyone sings La Vie Boheme B.
Seasons of Love B plays as we see shots of the cast and homeless people we assume Mark has filmed. It ends as the friends celebrate the New Year. Mark is filming, as always, and Mimi tells the camera that she is giving up her vices and going back to school. Roger says he will finally write his one great song. Mark, Maureen, and Joanne talk about how Buzzline, a sleazy show, offered Mark a job. Mark thinks that would be selling out. As they return to the apartment, Benny has padlocked the door. Angel uses a garbage can to knock it off and they enter to discover their stuff is gone. Maureen tells Mark theres always Buzzline.
Mark, Joanne, and Maureen head to Buzzline for Joanne to negotiate Mark a deal. Mark and Joanne meet with Alexi Darling who ends up giving Mark the job. While this is happening, Joanne sees Maureen flirting with the receptionist. Afterwards, Joanne tells Maureen she needs commitment. Maureen says, all you need to do is ask, and so she does. The two decide to be committed to each other.
At the engagement party, Maureen is once again flirting with someone. Joanne goes over, and they sing Take Me or Leave Me and basically break up in the end. Maureens mom tells Mark that maybe [he and Maureen] can get back together now.
Back at the loft, their stuff is back, along with Benny. He explains that Mimi convinced him to let them live there rent-free. However, Mark now has money from his job, so he pays him. Roger is angry that Mimi used to date Benny, even though it was years ago. Mimi sings Without You. During this, we see a montage of Mimi trying to quit smack. She has started to go to Life Support and is going through intense withdrawal. Roger is there for her, though. Also, Angel gets sick and dies during this song.
We are now in a big funeral home. Mimi says, Angel was one of my closest friends. It's right that it's Halloween, because it was her favorite holiday. I knew we'd hit it off from the moment we met. That skin head was bothering her, and she said she was more of a man than he'd ever be, and more of a woman than he'd ever get... Mark says, ...and then there was that time that he walked up to this group of tourists... and, they were petrified, because, a) they were obviously lost, and b) they had probably never spoken to a drag queen before in their lives...and he...she just offered to escort them out of Alphabet City, and then she let them take a picture with her, and then she said she'd help 'em find the Circle Line.... And Maureen says, ...so much more original then any of us...you'd find an old table cloth on the street and make a dress...and next year, sure enough -- they'd be mass producing them at the Gap. You always said how lucky you were that we were all friends. But it was us, baby, who were the lucky ones. Finally Collins comes up to sing Ill Cover You (Reprise). Its very beautiful and sad.
At the gravesite, the crew leave Collins to grieve alone as they sing Goodbye, Love. Mimi is now dating Benny and Roger sold his guitar and bought a car and is leaving for Santa Fe. Mimi and Joanne sing to Roger and Maureen, respectively, about how they did so much more than the other, and how they wish they had love like Angels. They are all arguing and Collins comes and reminds them what Angel taught them all about love. Maureen goes to comfort Joanne and they get back together at this point, presumably.
We see a montage of Roger in Santa Fe and Mark in New York as they sing What You Own. Roger sees Mimi everywhere and Mark hears Angel. By the end, Roger discovers that he should write a song called Your Eyes about Mimi, and that will be his one great song. He heads back to New York. Mark realizes his film, and rehearses calling Alexi to quit. By the end, Roger and Mark reunite on the roof. They go down to the loft, and Collins calls to have them throw down the key. Mark tells him not to get his ass kicked this time. Its exactly one year later: December 24th, 1990, 10 pm, Eastern Standard Time.
Mark is about to show Collins and Roger the film he has finally created when he hears Maureen calling for him. She has found Mimi, who had been missing for a few weeks. Mimi was living on the street and is very sick. The boys go down to the street to carry Mimi up and they place her on a table in the loft. Roger and Mimi re-confess their love in Finale A, and Mimi seems very sick. Roger tells her to hold on because she should hear the song. He sings Your Eyes to her, which is about how much he loves her: You were the song all along. She dies at the end of the song.
Then, her hand starts to move. She says she was headed for a warm, bright light and Angel was there (and she looked good). Angel told her to turn around, girlfriend, and listen to that boys song. Mimi is drenched and her fever is breaking. Mark starts off Finale B which is a beautiful mix of some of the songs from the show. As they sing, Mark starts his film, called Today 4 U Proof Positive on the projector. Its basically a montage of homeless people and the cast. It ends with a shot of Angel, and the screen fades.
After the credits, there is a thank you message to Jonathan Larson, who wrote the Broadway show and died so close to the opening date of it.
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